An entertaining concoction with plenty of twists on the way to a nicely unexpected resolution.


Science fiction, the paranormal, cults, and oddball characters collide in this amiable thriller.

Something very bad has happened to young Wesley Keener. He’s cracked his skull open—just how is a matter requiring some fact-finding—and now he’s empty of everything but a bright light, something like the trunk of the car at the center of Alex Cox’s film Repo Man. “Hollow….They hollowed him out.” So thinks Jay Albert Shenk, a Los Angeles ambulance-chaser attorney who sports a tiny ponytail and a generally good-natured attitude, turning competitive only when he’s up against lesser lawyers. He’s a fine and mostly honest fellow in whom Winters, an expert practitioner of odd scenarios in books such as Underground Airlines (2016), invests much attention and character development. In company with his adopted son, Ruben, a grocery-store clerk—born in Vietnam, raised Jewish, and nicknamed “Rabbi”—Shenk tries to ferret out what it was, exactly, that happened to poor Wesley while filing a medical malpractice against the doctors—the “they” in question—who treated him once he was rushed to the hospital. “Shenk had been doing this for nineteen years…and he could give you the lowdown on every sawbones, on every hospital and clinic and urgent care in Southern California,” Winters writes. The doctors range from weary to evasive to self-appointed deity, but they’re the least of Shenk’s problems: Both he and Ruben are visited by spectral cultists who think Wesley’s shell might just harbor a portal to another world. Wesley’s dad is a handful, the expert witness Shenk hires turns out to be a slippery character, and Wesley’s sister, Evie, “not a rock star, not exactly, but she was a certified indie darling, her star ascendant,” has plenty of complicating secrets of her own. Winters’ lively tale jumps from decade to decade and all over the map as everyone grows older except Wesley, with a growing trail of bodies and suspects to mark the story’s passage.

An entertaining concoction with plenty of twists on the way to a nicely unexpected resolution.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-50544-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.


Twenty years after Chloe Davis’ father was convicted of killing half a dozen young women, someone seems to be celebrating the anniversary by extending the list.

No one in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was left untouched by Richard Davis’ confession, least of all his family members. His wife, Mona, tried to kill herself and has been incapacitated ever since. His son, Cooper, became so suspicious that even now it’s hard for him to accept pharmaceutical salesman Daniel Briggs, whose sister, Sophie, also vanished 20 years ago, as Chloe’s fiance. And Chloe’s own nightmares, which lead her to rebuff New York Times reporter Aaron Jansen, who wants to interview her for an anniversary story, are redoubled when her newest psychiatric patient, Lacey Deckler, follows the path of high school student Aubrey Gravino by disappearing and then turning up dead. The good news is that Dick Davis, whom Chloe has had no contact with ever since he was imprisoned after his confession, obviously didn’t commit these new crimes. The bad news is that someone else did, someone who knows a great deal about the earlier cases, someone who could be very close to Chloe indeed. First-timer Willingham laces her first-person narrative with a stifling sense of victimhood that extends even to the survivors and a series of climactic revelations, at least some of which are guaranteed to surprise the most hard-bitten readers.

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2508-0382-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A whodunit upstaged at every point by the unforgettably febrile intensity of the heroine’s first-person narrative.


Emerson’s striking debut follows a Navajo police photographer almost literally to hell and back.

Rita Todacheene sees dead people. Since most of her attempts to talk to someone about her special power while she was growing up on the reservation ended in disaster, she’s tried to keep it to herself during her five years with the Albuquerque Police Department. Her precarious peace is shattered by the death of Erma Singleton, manager of a bar owned by Matias Romero, her common-law husband. Although lazy Detective Martin Garcia has ruled that Erma fell from a highway bridge, her body shattered by the truck that hit her on the roadway below, Erma insists that she was pushed from the bridge. “Help me get back to my baby,” she tells Rita, “or I’ll make your life a living hell.” Since Rita, a civilian employee, has few resources for an investigation, Erma opens a portal that unleashes scores of ghosts on her, all clamoring for justice or mercy or a few words with the loved ones they left behind. The nightmare that propels Rita forward, from snapping photos of Judge Harrison Winters and his wife and children and dog, all shot dead in what Garcia calls a murder-suicide, to revelations that link both these deaths and Erma’s to the drug business of the Sinaloa cartel, is interleaved with repeated flashbacks that show the misfit Rita’s early years on her Navajo reservation and in her Catholic grade school as she struggles to come to terms with a gift that feels more like a curse. The appeal of the case as a series kickoff is matched by the challenges Emerson will face in pulling off any sequels.

A whodunit upstaged at every point by the unforgettably febrile intensity of the heroine’s first-person narrative.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-641-29333-4

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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